I’ll admit it: I was really doubtful that these cupcakes would turn out. I’d had a few gluten-free desserts in my life, and they kinda tasted the same: dense, fudge-y (not necessarily in a good way) and not a lot of flavor. But I get it. If you can’t have gluten and you have a sweet tooth, you’ll settle for whatever. Right?
I feel for people who have gluten intolerances. I love gluten. OK, well, I don’t love gluten, per se. I love everything that gluten comes in (which is essentially everything, it seems). I consider myself lucky that I don’t have any food allergies or intolerances. But, I have friends and family members that do, so this recipe is dedicated to them.
I initially wanted to try this recipe when I saw it on Pinterest because of my boss. She recently discovered she has an intolerance for many foods, one of which is gluten. She often sits back while we enjoy our various birthday cakes or holiday pie leftovers. She says nothing and doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, but I sympathize with her because I would be bothered by it. (Truth be told, I wanted to make these for her because I feel a little guilty for always bringing my “blog cupcakes” to work because she can never try them. Finally something she can taste-test!)
I have zero experience in gluten-free baking. I kind of cheated a bit, but so did the lady who wrote the original recipe. I used a gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cake mix. (You can find it here. I just got it at my local grocery store- no need to go to a specialty store.) I did things a little differently than she did, so if you want the original recipe, follow the link above. Here’s what I did:
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Hostess Copycat Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes
1 package Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup dairy-free butter
1 cup dairy-free milk of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large eggs
1/3 cup hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk (again, I used the almond milk)
Vanilla Icing Ingredients:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons dairy-free butter or margarine, melted
2-4 tablespoons non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk, and I recommend only using 2 tablespoons, maybe even 1)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Make sure all the cake ingredients are room temperature, then follow the directions on the back of the bag. Bake, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the ganache, place the ingredients in a metal bowl set atop a pot of simmering water. Hold the bowl with one hand with an oven mitt or towel or something to protect your hand, because the bowl will get hot! Stir constantly with the other hand, making sure not to burn the chocolate. When chocolate is almost completely melted, remove from heat and keep stirring until fully melted and incorporated. Let cool.
To make the vanilla icing, combine all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until no lumps remain. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add a bit more almond milk or water. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. You do want it to be rather thick, as it will be easier to swirl on top.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, core them with an apple corer or a paring knife. Core out the middle, taking care not to go too far down or the filling will come out the bottom. Save the cores. Pipe the vanilla icing into the center of each cupcake, and pop the core back into the center to “plug up” the cupcakes. This will keep the icing from mixing with the ganache in a bit.
Using a spoon, frost each cupcake with the ganache. Let set for about 10 minutes so it can harden a little, then pipe some swirls on top to make them look authentically “Hostess.” (Practice on a piece of wax paper or foil first, until you get the hang of it. You can also use a Ziploc bag with the end snipped off if you don’t have piping bags.)
These cupcakes are definitely worth trying if you or someone you know has a gluten intolerance (or lactose intolerance, for that matter). They aren’t at all dense or fudge-y- they are fluffy and moist like “real” cupcakes!